JCB heir Jo Bamford today called on Britain to “grab hold” of its “green destiny” and take advantage of the hydrogen opportunity it has.
“Do we want to be part of this energy revolution? We don’t make batteries in Britain. We don’t have any of the chemistry for batteries in Britain. But we do have an abundance of wind and an abundance of water, so we could have this wonderful opportunity coming out of this Covid-19 crisis.”
Bamford, Executive Chairman of Ryse Hydrogen and Wrightbus, made the comments today during the final instalment of H2 View’s three-part webinar series, powered by gasworld TV, and hosted by H2 View’s Managing Editor Rob Cockerill.
In April, Bamford revealed plans for a 3,000-strong hydrogen bus fleet in the UK. In his vision, the buses – about 10% of the UK’s total fleet – could be silently moving around UK towns and cities by 2024. Crucially, the hydrogen used to power these vehicles will be completely green.
Speaking to webinar viewers, Bamford said there are two zero emission solutions to the future at this point in time around heavy-duty transport: batteries and hydrogen.
“If you want to talk about the two of them, batteries probably work better at smaller stuff because as you get bigger and heavier hydrogen works better,” he explained.
“The other thing that I fundamentally like about hydrogen is it’s very similar to what we’re used to today.”
“With batteries, there’s actually a whole series of compromises around that sort of behaviour, whereas with hydrogen it’s very similar.
“You put it into a bus, seven minutes later the bus does everything that your diesel bus does except water comes out the exhaust. Isn’t this wonderfully exciting.”
Hydrogen is something Bamford said he has been looking at for about 15 years.
“I was lucky enough to be in a manufacturing and engineering business growing up as a child. 15 years ago, hydrogen did a lot of those things I just mentioned, but it was very expensive,” he said.
“About four years ago I started really looking at it closely again and said: ‘Right how am I going to get involved in this industry?’.”
“Ryse Hydrogen won contracts to supply hydrogen to buses in London and then the bus company, Wrightbus, went bankrupt, so we went and bought the bus company as well.”
“At the moment, we have a solution. We connect an electrolyser to a very large wind farm and we’ve just won planning permission to do that in Kent. Hopefully that will be built next year.”
“We now have a zero-emission solutions business based around hydrogen.”
“So, why did we start with buses? Well part of the problem with hydrogen really is this chicken and egg situation: supply and demand.”
“The thing I like the most about buses is you get 200 going home to a depot every day. Once you’ve got that demand you could go and get production. Once you’ve got production for something it’s a lot easier to go and do it in the rest of the economy.”
“Buses are ready now and we probably have about 100 on order in the UK at the moment and plans to do a lot more.
“Around 2022, you’ll start seeing trains really coming in – I know there’s 10 running around Germany at the moment – and hopefully planes will emerge in 2025, maybe a bit earlier.”
“The starting place is buses because they are ready here and now on the market.”